Hussain wishes Eng was as courageous as Flower, Olonga

Published: Sunday, February 16, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
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London: England captain Nasser Hussain said on Sunday he wished his side's actions over Zimbabwe had been as courageous as the stand taken by Andy Flower and Henry Olonga, who made a strong protest against President Robert Mugabe's regime. England finally decided earlier this week to boycott what should have been its World Cup opener against Zimbabwe in Harare on Thursday after the team had received a death threat. But during Zimbabwe's opener against Namibia in Harare on Monday, Flower and Olonga wore black armbands and issued a statement lamenting the "death of democracy" in Zimbabwe. "We talked about going to Harare and making a gesture, like wearing black armbands, or taking a bag of grain as one of the media suggested," Hussain admitted in his 'Sunday Telegraph' column. "It might have been a brave statement but was it a precedent for us to set? What would happen if all cricketers, and other sportsmen, made such statements in every country they didn't approve of? "But we mustn't hide from the fact that this is a political and moral issue as well, and we haven't made a real gesture of support for the people of Zimbabwe." And he admitted he wished he could have followed the example set by his Essex team- mate Flower and black pace bowler Olonga. "Deep down I wish our actions had been as clear and courageous as those of the two Zimbabweans." Hussain said he wanted to find out if Zimbabwe players really wanted England to boycott the fixture. "If the Zimbabwe players weren't sure, how could we make a judgment?" said Hussain. "Obviously as captain, I had a part in preparing the players' statement about the political, moral and safety issues involved. Nothing I've heard or seen since has altered my opinion." Hussain stressed how the ECB had told the players it stood to lose millions if, as a result of a boycott, there was a major split in world cricket and had thus clouded the issue as far as his team was concerned. "We have a moral obligation, too, to our employers and the game at home," he said. "We don't want to be remembered as the people who put the nail in the coffin of our sport." During a players' meeting in Cape Town on February 9, Hussain said the mood hardened against playing. "At that stage the majority were saying we shouldn't go because of what might happen if people protested at the match. "How could you live with yourself if you played a cricket match, which your government and family didn't want you to play in, and somebody got killed?"

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